Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy 125th Anniversary to the 1890 Land-Grant Universities!

Written by Joy Scherry
Above: First Officers of the State College for Colored Students,
known today as Delaware State University.
SCCS Cadets wore military style uniforms to reflect their studies. 

It’s the 125th anniversary of the 1890 land-grant universities!  This year Delaware State University joins eighteen other American universities in celebrating their common heritage in the Morrill Act of 1890.

In 1862 Congressman Justin Smith Morrill introduced an act which intended to provide land for the purpose of encouraging industrial colleges in each of the United States.  The proposed institutions would teach military tactics, mechanical arts (engineering), and agriculture.  The first Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in July of 1862.

Well after the Civil War, in 1890, Congress recognized that persons of color were not afforded equal opportunities to attend college.  Therefore, a second Morrill Act was passed in order to require that the established land-grant universities either demonstrate that race was not a criterion for admission, or create separate institutions for African Americans.

In total, seventy colleges and universities were created as a result of the Morrill Acts. Today Delaware State University and other historically black colleges and universities across the United States proudly celebrate a mutual heritage.

Above: Delaware State College students participate in a tractor driving competition and an egg judging.  The contests were a part of a Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention held on the DSC campus during the 1949-1950 academic year. The DSC agricultural building circa 1949 is seen in the background. 

Do you want to learn more about the Morrill Acts and the 1890 land-grant universities? Click here. You can also view a calendar of commemorative events in honor of the 125th anniversary and learn about the current goals of the 1890 land-grant universities.  

Click above to visit the current webpage of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Delaware State University 

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